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Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
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Jan 04, 2011

it was ok

Allan Bloom wrote a bestseller titled The Closing of the American Mind. I had not read this book when I began to read Ravelstein by Saul Bellow. Nor did I really know who Allan Bloom was, or even that the lead character in Bellow's novel was based on the real and famous professor Allan Bloom.

Nor did I know what Bellow was talking about in a good half of his allusions during the course of the book.

As I read it, I pondered the following questions: Is a novel without a plot still a novel? Or is it a character sketch? How many intellectual, sociological, academic, philosophical, religious, and literary allusions am I really interested in reading? How important is my comprehension of these allusions to my enjoyment of the novel?

And, perhaps most urgently, How much background should you need to know beforehand in order to enjoy a story? To this question, I would answer, a lot more background than I had before I began reading Ravelstein.

So you could blame me for most of this, but I found this novel to be a bit unrewarding and, to be blunt, boring.

Perhaps I'll return to Ravelstein in a few years after my brain grows a few sizes and I read several more books, and I'll slap my forehead and wonder how I missed the brilliance the first time.

Or perhaps by that point I won't be interested in reading a bunch of references and anecdotes about stuff I've already thought through and wrestled with. It's hard to know what the future Ian North will think about a younger Ian North's somewhat fierce and impulsive interaction with books.
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04/15 marked as: read

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